How Often Do You / Should You Update Camera Firmware?

Updating camera firmware is tedious and time consuming, and can sometimes lead to a bricked or inoperable camera if the wrong type or version of firmware is added! There are times when the "update" in question does little to improve the existing bugs/quirks on a camera, and offers minimal changes to features you wouldn't normally use.

So, my questions are:

  • How often do you check firmware on your cameras?
  • How long does it take to upgrade all subsequent cameras that need firmware updates?
  • Are there obligations/stipulations that must be met that dictate that every camera needs to be updated to it's most recent versions?

Feel free to either post replies in the comments, or take our short poll.


Derek

You beat me to the punch for asking the firmware question.

I tell my techs to be aware of what is latest version firmware out there for the camera but I don't tell them for go straight for the firmware first. I would rather be safe and troubleshooting camera properly. First try other basic 101 troubleshooting techniques we upgrade. It's easier to upgrade the firmware in the camera than to downgrade camera firmware. We have had one manufacturer tell us not to upgrade the latest firmware since there were recording issues with the new release and hold off until that fw version could be fixed. I would say most of the time. Firmware updating is annoying but virtually everything now has some update. Even analog DVRs with NICs need firmware updates these days so it isn't limited to just IP cameras. However, if ain't broke, don't fix it. so we don't go running around updating firmware unless we can pin down an exact model number with a bad firmware version.

Over the past month I have personally updated the firmware in 9 Axis cameras and 12 Bosch cameras. The firmware updates did fix an integration issues with a 3rd party VMS however most of those cameras were using their respective manufacturing software so firmware issues are not limited to just 3rd party VMSs.

Never had to update the firmware on ACTi or Panasonic cameras (knocks on wood)

If it aint broke... :)

Most of the time the camera firmware is upgraded only when required, for example upgrading the VMS or adding a new feature that requires it.

Back when I was an integrator, we went with the same strategy as Steve and undisclosed. We didn't update firmware on production systems unless there was an issue. More than once a manufacturer released firmware to address issues we found, actually. I also can't remember an instance when added features drove us to update firmware.

That being said, I wonder how often firmware updates could provide performance improvements to existing systems. The Bosch 5.80 firmware comes to mind, as does HikVision's improvements to the 864 between our original test and the recent test with updated firmware.

"How often do you check firmware on your cameras?"
I think most people's option is 'as needed'.

"How long does it take to upgrade all camera firmware?"
That can depend on how many cameras are being done, or maybe not. Some utilities provide for mass updating a group of cameras. We don't like doing that in case a bad "push" causes all cameras problems at the same time. We may do small groups at a time.

We update Videoiq firmware in all cameras at least one a year. all other appliances on an as needed basis.

I agree with Undisclosed's "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" reference. From many years of experience with computers, I've learned that closed systems that are functioning properly don't require regular updates. The risks of an update possibly causing problems far outweigh the possible benefits. That is not to say I won't do updates but that I weigh the benefits and risks and proceed accordingly.

First of all, I would never update IP camera firmware without first determing if there was any pressing need: a fix for bugs we have personally encountered or features added that would actually benefit our situation. Second, I would not update camera firmware without our VMS manufacturer's blessing. Since most IP camera firmware can't be "downgraded" after an update, the risk of bricking an expensive camera due to compatibility issues is too great. Thirdly, I would definitely upgrade only one camera and thoroughly test it before upgrading the rest of the same brand/model in our inventory.